West Bund 2013: Biennale of Architecture & Contemporary Art

– By Chien-hua Huang –

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The first West Bund Biennale (The West Bank Architecture and Contemporary Art Biennale 2013) has now open to the public. It includes a series of work including architecture, contemporary art, theatre and incorporates sound tools, videos, spatial experiences, etc.. The exhibition for this event is divided into ‘Fabrica: International Exhibition of the Built Environment‘ near the west Bund and ‘Reflecta: Four Special Exhibition of Contemporary China‘ located at the south end of the biennial which is the core unit of exhibition. According to the Biennale, it aims to contribute both to the representation of China’s progress on relevant professions and the cultural and social development of local areas.

Exhibition ‘Fabrica’ covers the whole West Bund Cultural Corridor to activate the 8.4 kilometers west bank of Huangpu River in Shanghai. ‘Fabrica’ functions as an experimental social unit combined with the local history – the industrial age of Shanghai – and local context. The abandoned factories, infrastructures and railways are transformed into a new architectural language to serve a new context with respect to the memory of history. Vertical Glass House by Yung Ho Chang, The Cloud Pavilion by SHL Architects are examples of the transformation functions as lectures and performances for this event and social interactive device for the future of this region.  The area is not yet completed to serve adjacent residential area but the De-art Museum and adjacent commercial and cultural area in the future  are expected to be ready soon by local residents and visitors.

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Exhibition ‘Reflecta’ comprses the Oil Tube Hall and Central Hall. It successfully covers comprehensive documents on the progress of architecture, sound art and installation artworks of last several decades. The considerable collections of architectural works in China by both domestic and foreign architect such as Wang Shu, Liu Jiakun, Herzog+De Meuron, OMG, etc, provide comprehensive information on architectural discipline China. In addition, the Biennale manages to link various media to represent the ‘Reflecta’ of China through the historical review of other relevant fieldwork such as the impressive ‘Largest Sound Event in Chinese History‘ by Dajuin Yao.

Even through this is the first Biennale of West Bund (and there are still lots of construction undertaking along the riverside), the effect of the combination of relevant disciplines and the experimental works on the local areas are remarkable. More importantly, the historical review is important to show the progress of contemporary architecture and art of China in the last several decades. One point of criticism, though, concerns the lack of connection to the wider world. Actually the integration of the event into the local area is expected to be seen in the future event.

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Brief Information of Westbund Biennale; 2013

Location: Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China

Date: 20.Oct 2013 – 19.Dec 2013

For more information please visit the official website: http://westbundbiennial.com/enindex.html


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